Monday, January 19, 2009

I think, therefore I ohm.

It's all new in this house, in an unfinished-newness, and that means all the doors came primed but not painted. As the official Paintress, Queen of Can and Brush, I've taken this project as my own.

Whilst I paint sometimes I think. Mostly about brush-strokes, truthfully, but sometimes I think about Life, and Being, and all that other cosmic-carry-on.

(Not to be confused with Cosmic Carrion, which is an entirely 'nother proposition, though I think I'd like to explore it someday.)

Anyway, lots of thinking about doing and being, and where one leaves off and the other begins, or if that's even a helpful distinction. I've always had a horror of being paralyzed. The voices I grew up with dwelt rather heavily on how it was enough to "be", and that we shouldn't derive our identity from what we "do". Perhaps it was better addressed to a workaholic, materialistic culture than an unfledged 13 year old girl in the pew, because my main impression was dread. What if I were paralyzed, and couldn't do anything except blink my eyes - who would I be? Why should it matter, if I just "was" rather than a sum of my doings?

It does matter. It matters. What I do is what I am.

I'm still thinking about all this, is-ness. Haven't quite hit the sweet spot yet.


CG said...

I was thinking about this from over on my wordpress blog, but here is something I find interesting between us and this doing/being thing (not that there is a difference and almost certainly not a dichotomy, but anyway).

My impression at least is that you were raised by Anabaptist whose entire emphasis to my understanding is on works. They are not Calvinists -- they do not believe in "saved by faith".

I was raised, essentially, by FreeWill Baptists, very much a by faith alone people. They aren't quite Hardshell or Primitives or some of the other types in that I don't believe they make a big deal out of "once saved always saved" (thus why "freewill" becomes so important -- well, that and that they really disagree with the Presbyterian predestination thing).

And yet your people seem to have emphasized to you as a child "being" and mine emphasized to me "doing" (walking the talk it is called).

Fascinating to me at least.

Constantine said...

I once heard a theologian-philosopher state in the spirit of Plato that we are "human becomings," instead of "human beings." Seems a rather nice balance between the two propositions you reference. I rather miss this old theologian, as we now diverge considerably on things theological. He was, is, a top-shelf Calvinist. One thing about the legit "frozen chosen"; they are vigorous in their intellectual ponderings.

Madcap said...

Good morning CG,

On the maternal side, which is the side I was predominantly exposed to, they were Anabaptists. But by my parents' generation they'd gone a bit free-range, so I ended up in everything from Anglican to Pentecostal churches, and it seems that in that Pentecostal phase I was becoming more aware of the external thought-environment and taking it to heart.

Thinking about it, the other factor in the religious change would have been the fact that a small group of Mennonites moved into very sparsely populated areas to farm in my grandparents' generation, and needed to mix freely with the other available settlers.

And my paternal side was Catholic. Ish.

That said (how I heard "being" rather than "doing"), in spite of that there was a very heavy focus on works as evidence of your internal spirituality, and a fairly free climate of judgment about fruits. Also a VERY strong focus on material prosperity as a marker of faith and divine favour, and I'm pretty sure all that money-making wasn't a product of spiritual spontaneous-generation...

Hello Constantine,

I rather like the "becoming" choice.

They certainly are rigorous and vigorous. When our family owned the Christian bookstore various ones would stake out territory and blast me with theology and demand to know if I thought I was saved. How do you answer a question like that under those circumstances? I never knew what the desired response was, and didn't want to disappoint!